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COVID-19 cyber attacks: 3 types of scams to look out for

By: GardaWorld
March 19, 2020

NYA and Drum Cussac, two GardaWorld companies, are working together to offer effective planning and crisis response solutions in light of COVID-19. To learn about our capabilities or to request a quote, please fill out our contact form.

Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the ongoing panic and confusion over COVID-19. A number of online phishing attacks and scams have been recorded in recent weeks, which are engineered to exploit current fears.

While there are some great online sources being used to monitor the pandemic and provide vital information about staying safe, there are also a lot of malicious websites claiming to do the same.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 1,400 COVID-19-related domains registered, many of which are not legitimate, but rather riddled with malware. These are designed to steal user credentials and personal information primarily for financial gain. In the UK in March alone, over GBP 800,000 of losses were recorded related to such fraud schemes.

 

Here are things to look out for:

 

1. Phishing Emails

Computer hacker stealing information with laptop

  • Emails impersonating reputable and credible sources, such as the World Health Organization. Once users open such links, malicious software is downloaded on their devices.
  • Similarly, students have been targeted with fake communications from universities that appear to give updates on closures.
  • Email scams have redirected users working from home to malicious email login screens with the aim of harvesting user credentials.

 

2. Fake Websites

A businessman looking stressed during a late night in a modern office

  • There have been reports of numerous malicious websites acting as doppelganger versions of the popular COVID-19 live mapping platform, administered by John Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) to infect the computers of unsuspecting users with a trojan malware.
  • Numerous websites have been recorded purporting to be charities working to raise money for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

 

3. Dangerous Apps

Woman holding cellphone having problem with mobile phone, frustrated angry

  • Forged COVID-19 tracking and monitoring apps have been found. This is a particular issue with Android devices, where there are fewer security checks and restrictions on apps.

 

Here is what we recommend to avoid becoming a target:

Delete key on a computer keyboard

  • Remain vigilant – there is likely to be a prolonged period of uncertainty around COVID-19 and cyber criminals will continue to exploit this at every opportunity.
  • Do not click on links or open attachments from unknown sources.
  • Be wary of all unsolicited emails particularly if there are spelling or grammatical mistakes—if in doubt, phone the sender.
  • Refer directly to credible websites rather than using links in emails.
  • Only download apps from verified vendors using official platforms.

 


NYA and Drum Cussac, two GardaWorld companies, are working together to offer effective planning and crisis response solutions in light of COVID-19. To learn about our capabilities or to request a quote, please fill out our contact form.